Table of Contents
Who is Paul Stamets?
Paul Stamets is a mycologist, author, and researcher and the world’s leading expert on all things mushrooms and fungi. To date, he has received over 20 mushroom-focused patents and has dedicated his life to uncovering the potential of mushrooms for healing both humans and our environment.
What is the Stamets Stack?
The Stamets Stack combines the medicinal mushroom Lion’s Mane with niacin (vitamin B3) and psilocybin (the active compound of magic mushrooms or magic truffles). Stamets came up with the combination of psilocybin mushrooms and Lion’s Mane for its dual capacity to create new neurons and neural pathways in the brain, and also to repair existing neurological damage.
Stamets has incorporated niacin in this stack for its potential to more effectively distribute the psilocybin and Lion’s Mane into the brain thereby enhancing the brain-boosting benefits of both substances.
What is Lion's Mane?
Lion’s Mane, also known as Bearded Tooth Fungus or Hedgehog Mushroom, is a medicinal mushroom that naturally grows in North America, Europe, and Asia. Medicinal mushrooms are gaining much attention nowadays, but Lion’s Mane has drawn particular attention for its unique nerve-regenerative properties. Its use goes back hundreds of years in traditional Chinese and Japanese culture as a tonic for supporting overall health and longevity.
What does Lion's Mane do?
Lion’s Mane is nature’s brain food; it stimulates the brain to produce more NGF (Nerve Growth Factors). These are responsible for the production, growth, and maintenance of neurons in the brain. NGF is specifically responsible for myelin sheath production, a layer around the brain cells that protects and increases the conduction of the stimuli between cells. Unfortunately, as we age, these sheaths can become damaged, and the conduction speed becomes much slower, leading to the deterioration of brain functions (as in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease). In other words, Lion’s Mane helps to keep the brain vital and healthy.
Evidence of the brain healing potential of Lion’s Mane comes from two lab studies where researchers intentionally damaged the brains of mice through the introduction of a neurotoxin. They observed the mice’s behavior and noted that they exhibited dementia-like symptoms. Upon introducing Lion’s Mane, the effects of the neurotoxin reversed.
Another study on Lions Mane mushrooms confirms it is a promising supplement for the aging brain, activating neurogenesis and increased neurotrophic pathways.
Additionally, Lion’s Mane contains antioxidants that support the overall health of your cells. The formula is simple: healthier cells, better energy transportation, more energy!
The potential benefits of Lion's Mane
- Increases memory
- Increases focus
- Increases concentration
- Supports gut health
- Improves mood
- Increases energy levels
- Supports insulin sensitivity
What is niacin, and why is it in the Stamets stack?
Niacin (nicotinic acid), also known as vitamin B3 or vitamin PP, is a vitamin created in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. It’s obtained in the diet from a variety of whole and processed foods. Although the names are similar, nicotinic acid has nothing to do with nicotine in tobacco. To avoid confusion, nicotinic acid is mostly referred to as niacin.
Niacin plays a vital role in energy and protein metabolism. Without this vitamin, proper metabolism of fat, carbohydrates and amino acids does not occur in the body. . Niacin has an anti-oxidative effect and participates in many enzymatic processes. It’s essential for the regeneration of the skin, muscles, nerves, and DNA.
Paul Stamets reports that the majority of neurogenesis occurs in the nerve extremities; since niacin works as a flushing agent and causes vasodilation (expansion of the blood vessels), it has the potential to carry the molecules of other compounds across the blood-brain barrier and into the farthest reaches of the nervous system; Stamets theorizes that this helps distribute the psilocybin and Lion’s Mane deeper into the brain and nervous system, enhancing their healing potential.
When is taking niacin not recommended:
- Hypersensitivity to vitamin B3
- Liver diseases
- Ulcerus pepticum (ulcer of stomach and/or duodenum)
- Very low blood pressure
- Decreased kidney function
Niacin causes blood capillaries to expand (vasodilation) and blood to rush towards the skin’s surface. This can cause what is called a “flush” when supplementing with a high-dose of niacin – accompanied by redness, itching, or burning sensation in your skin. While uncomfortable, a niacin flush is harmless and should only last up to an hour.
By sticking to a low dose (25-50 mg) of niacin, as well as supplementing with a vitamin B complex and vitamin C, a flush that is too intense can be avoided. Never take more than 500 milligrams of niacin per day.
Always consult a healthcare professional if you are uncertain if a niacin supplement is right for you before starting the Stamets’ Stack.
Stacking Lion's Mane with niacin and psilocybin
At the level of the microdose, psilocybin has a sub-perceptual effect. Within that hardly noticeable effect, it has the potential to reduce anxiety and irritability, enhance cognitive functions and creativity, increase socializing, and provide a greater sense of well-being. Through this greater sense of well-being, our immune system gets stronger too.
Stacking Lion’s Mane within the Stamets Stack protocol may also promote self-awareness, creativity, cognition, health, well-being, and recognition of the interconnectedness of all life.
Stamets believes the Lion’s Mane, psilocybin and niacin stacking formula should be considered, and made available, as any other vitamin for supplement, claiming that its neurogenerative effect (over several generations) has the potential to initiate ‘the next quantum leap in human consciousness.’
How to stack Lion's Mane according to Paul Stamets Stacking protocol
Microdosing with Paul Stamets stacking protocol is simple. The stacking protocol looks as follows:
DAYS 1-4: Microdosing days
- 0.1 to 0.2 grams of dried magic (psilocybin) mushrooms or 0.5 to 1.5 grams of fresh magic truffles
- 500mg to 1000mg of high-quality Lion’s Mane extract powder (or manufacturer’s recommended dose)
- 25 to 50 mg of niacin (the ‘Flush’ variety)
DAY 5-7: Non-microdosing days
- No microdose
- Optional: Niacin
- Optional: Continue implementing Lion’s Mane
CYCLE: continue for four weeks
RESET: Stop microdosing with psilocybin for two to four weeks. You may continue supplementing with Lion’s Mane during this reset.
Not sure if the Stamets Stack or another protocol is best for you? Microdosing Institute’s video course: Explore Microdosing will teach you the best way to microdose for your unique needs.
Where to buy?
Lion's Mane Fruiting body vs Mycelium?
The mycelium of Lions’ Mane mushrooms have the potential to stimulate a higher production of NGF (nerve growth factor), however many vendors who use mycelium in their powdered extracts also grind up the substrate that is used for growing the mycelium and fruiting bodies.
The grain used for this substrate can take up 30% of the total of the capsule. This is why we recommend seeking out extracts that are made using only the fruiting bodies of Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Our partners Foodsporen (via Microdose.nl in the EU) and Mushroom Revival (USA) only use the fruiting bodies of high quality mushrooms and a 3x extracted powder.
Is Stacking Lion's Mane Safe?
When you take niacin in a dose higher than 25-50 milligrams, you can experience a “niacin flush”; a tingling sensation, and redness in the face, neck, and arms, which is entirely harmless. Yet it’s the symptom of the niacin doing what it’s supposed to do.
Therefore, do not use the no-flush variety of niacin when stacking Lion’s Mane and psilocybin. Paul Stamets has stated in April 2023 that a low dose of niacin (25-50 mg) is sufficient. If this flush is very noticable at 25 mg, please know that microdosers report that the flush effect gets less intense once their body gets used to the stacking routine.
As a reminder, those with hypersensitivity to niacin, liver diseases, ulcerus pepticum (ulcer of stomach and/or duodenum), gout, alcoholism, very low blood pressure, decreased kidney function, and diabetes should not take niacin; however, psilocybin and Lion’s Mane may still be supportive for you in these instances.
If you are unsure if these substances are safe for your health situation, please consult a healthcare professional before stacking with Lion’s Mane or trying the Stamets Stack.
Tips for the Stamets’ Stack
- Before trying the Stamets Stack, we usually recommend that microdosers try a microdosing cycle of 4-6 weeks with just psilocybin (mushrooms or truffles) first. This provides a baseline to help you understand if you get enhanced benefits by stacking Lion’s Mane and niacin. It also helps you find your microdosing sweet spot, or optimal dose of psilocybin mushrooms or truffles.
- To avoid building tolerance to psilocybin mushrooms or truffles, it is important to take periodic breaks and to avoid microdosing every day. This is why it is not recommended to microdose with psilocybin for the entire week and to take a few weeks off of microdosing after a 4 week cycle.
- The benefits of Lion’s Mane, however, are better received by the body when used consistently. It is safe to supplement Lion’s Mane every day, even when you are not microdosing.
- When finding your sweet spot for microdosing, we always recommend starting low and going slow. Applying this concept to your niacin dose can give you a more pleasant experience during a Stamets Stack. Start with a smaller dose of niacin and slowly increase as your body adjusts to the flushing effects.
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